The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima (Seven Realms #4)
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Disney Hyperion on October 23, 2012
A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love. View Spoiler »
Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana’Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells’ inner turmoil, Raisa’s best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she’s falling in love.
Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?
A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series. « Hide Spoiler
Cinda Williams Chima’s THE CRIMSON CROWN is the finale to one of my favourite YA fantasy series of all time; to say that my expectations were high is an understatement. I’m very pleased to say that it lived up to my expectations, and I unreservedly recommend the series. Note: this is a spoiler-free review for the series.
The Seven Realms series is a master class in how to balance it all in YA fantasy: from politics and intrigue to epic battles and quiet moments of intense feeling, these books deliver it all. Protagonists Han Alister and Princess Raisa are two of the most likeable and relatable main characters I’ve come across in YA fantasy. I love the fact that they have their own separate lives, families and friends, duties, and motivations, but ultimately they always come back to each other. At this point they’re my number one OTP in all of YA, for many reasons that I can’t go into because spoilers. It’s the slowest of burns, and the feels are powerful.
The world building in this series is so strong, with layer upon layer of culture, history, and ancient magics gradually revealed throughout each book. As much as I enjoyed the world of the Seven Realms in previous books, I think it’s at its peak in THE CRIMSON CROWN. Williams Chima ties together a multitude of different political plot lines, balances a couple slow-burn romances, and finally delivers an answer to the question that has haunted this series and its protagonist: what really happened between the Demon King and Queen Hanalea hundreds of years ago? I had a few theories, and while I got close to sussing it out, I was still shocked by the revelation of the who and the how of it all. There might have been audible gasping involved.
If there’s one aspect of this book that didn’t work perfectly for me, it’s the pacing. While the majority of the book flew by, there were a few sections that dragged on much longer than I thought they should’ve. Clocking in at a cool 598 pages, I think that THE CRIMSON CROWN could’ve done with a little bit of pruning in the middle. It’s too bad, because other than the draggy part, the plot kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. The book’s plot and overall series arc is still better than the vast majority of YA fantasies out there, so I only knocked off a half star from my rating.
If you haven’t read the Seven Realms series…what are you doing? Go pick it up so we can flail together!